Go Back

Anu Koivunen

Born January 29, 1967, Kemi

PhD 2003 (media studies), University of Turku
Licentiate 1994 (Film and television studies), University of Turku
Master of Arts 1992 (Film and television studies), University of Turku
Docent in media culture 2004, University of Tampere
Docent in Film and Television studies and women’s studies 2004, University of Helsinki

Senior research fellow in the research project Driving Forces of Democracy 2015–17, University of Helsinki
Professor of film studies 2012–, Stockholm University (leave of absence 2015–17)
Acting professor of media culture 2006–07, University of Tampere
Lecturer of film studies 2005–11, University of Stockholm
Academy of Finland postdoctoral researcher 2004, University of Helsinki
Acting lecturer of women’s studies 2001–03, University of Helsinki

Research themes:
The history of film and television, gender and nationality, the construction of emotions in the media, the political public sphere

Publications, research projects and other academic activity:

Driving Forces of Democracy research project, the national public spheres of radio and television

Stockholm University research database

Digitala Vetenskapliga Arkivet (Diva) publications database

Photo: Bart van der Gaag
Written by Anu Koivunen (Kaija Hartikainen ed.)

Translated by Matthew Billington

Gendered nation

Researching nationality involves a struggle with methodological nationalism. How can one produce knowledge about Finland without taking Finland as a given, without already knowing and explaining on the basis of that knowledge? This is a question I return to time and again, as my own research career has revolved around questions of nationality, difference and power. I was studying at a time when Finnish cinema became the subject of academic research. Ari Honka-Hallilan, Kimmo Laineen, Mervi Pantin, Hannu Salmen and I felt a kind of pioneering zeal.

Kimmo Laine (back), Anu Koivunen and Ari Honka-Hallila Photo: Hanna Kangasniemi

I wrote my dissertation on the portrayal of women in war-era films and the Niskavuori films as a narrative of the Finnish gender system. I later researched the historical politics of the new Finnish documentary genre (Auf Wiedersehen Finnland, Kenen joukoissa seisot, Finnish Blood Swedish Heart) and gendered narratives (Steam of Life).

I became interested in Jörn Donner’s films from the 1960s because they evidently wanted to be more than Swedish or Finnish films.

Susanna Paasosen, Professor Astrid Södebergh Widding (Stockholm University) and I organised the conference Affective Encounters: Rethinking Embodiment in Feminist Media Studies at the University of Turku in September 2001, which was one of the first international conferences dealing with the study of affect as a discipline. Although it was coloured by the 9/11 terror attacks, which coincided with the conference, I ended up spending a year in two projects pondering the construction of emotions in the media and particularly the kinds of conceptions we can use to speak about experience, embodiment and emotions and the consequences for critical feminist studies of concentrating on emotions.

My research connected with the films of Jörn Donner (Kone Foundation 2014–15) concerns emotional history: the place of autofiction and confessionalism in media culture.

In the research project Vulnerability, funded by the Swedish Research Council, I studied both “affective historiography” and the dynamic of shame and pride in new narratives of the identity of Sweden Finns.

Helena Kara (right), Anu Koivunen, Leif Wager and Hannu Leminen. Coffee at the home of Helena Kara and Hannu Leminen in connection with the film festival Suomalaisen elokuvan festivaali 1992 Photo: Jarmo Heikkinen

Go Back